Two nights ago while watching Ricardo in his “dad” role, I was made aware once again of how challenging Spanish is. As he was listening to one of his daughters share her latest dilemma and offering up his advice I only wished I had enough knowledge of the Spanish language to be able to share my thoughts too.
Fast Forward 2 hours later, long after his daughter had fallen fast asleep we laid in bed and he re-capped everything that was said. After he translated for me I had an even bigger desire to share my 2 cents given the topic of conversation. Frustrated, I laid there thinking how it was even possible that I’ve been living here for just over a year and can’t consider myself fluent, or even at the point of speaking conversationally yet. Am I stupid? I thought…
After hearing my concerns Ricardo looks at me and says in Spanish, the reason you can’t speak Spanish is because you don’t practice. You don’t try. You always say you can’t. You need to say “I CAN learn Spanish” “I WANT to learn Spanish” “I WILL learn Spanish.” but instead you say, “I can’t, or, it’s not possible.” if you want to learn Spanish, you need to practice or else you will never learn.
I don’t know what I was expecting him to say… Maybe some words of encouragement for all that I HAVE learned in the last year or maybe a reminder of all that I can understand in Spanish… But instead I got exactly what I NEEDED to hear. The truth. He’s right… the reason I can understand so much is because I’m constantly listening, or asking what something means… I’m forever practicing my listening skills but neglecting the speaking part so in the end, here I sit with a very lop sided knowledge of Spanish.
That was my A-Ha moment. That was the moment I realized the light bulb was there, it just hadn’t yet gone off.
I don’t have a choice. I need to learn this language. Ricardo’s entire family speaks Spanish. His 3 daughters speak Spanish. I’ve gotten away speaking basic Spanish since living here but I cannot keep having basic conversations when what I want is meaningful relationships. Learning Spanish is not a want at this point, it’s a necessity.
Fast forward to yesterday I called my friend Milena over at Mexi-Can Me. She sweetly shared her experience of her sometimes bad-attempt at speaking Spanish. How people would look at her completely confused wondering what she was trying to say. How sometimes they would laugh because she sounded so darn cute even if she was saying something correctly. She encouraged me to just start talking and to find something else to add to the conversation.
A-HA! The light bulb went off.
I got off the phone and Belen (Ricardo’s daughter) was still here. I practiced. I practiced my heart out. Things that she asked me that I would normally say “Yes or No” to, I was adding another sentence to that. The result was we spent 5 hours just the two of us. Talking, listening to music, making dinner, painting our nails. I said things wrong. I got out my translator. She helped me. We laughed. We did a Spanish and an English lesson together. That is what I want. A relationship. The kind of relationship I’m not going to get simply by asking “how are you?” or saying “have a good day, yes, or no.”
My new mission is to learn this language. I can’t call it a goal just yet as I still need to map a few things out to determine what my first goal will be and how I will know I’ve achieved it. But I’m happy that I’ve come to the point where the mission has been set. Today, I formally announce to you here on my blog, that I am going to actively start learning. I have less than 1 year left in Mexico and it’s not going to get any easier once we are back in Canada surrounded by English everything.
The time is now, and there is no better time than this.
*If you are learning, or have learnt to speak another language… What have you found has helped you most?*
I would love to hear your tips and tricks =)